Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Rainforest: The Limit of Splendour
Sigh. Another instance of incomprehensible stupidity going on in my corner of the world, kids. Last night I watched the STUNNING documentary: Rainforest: The Limit of Splendour, by Richard Boyce, who grew up playing among the old growth forests that used to be here in my neck of the woods. (They're even clear-cutting the parks now.)
His film documents the rapidly vanishing rainforest on Vancouver Island, alternating a Kwakwaka'Wakw clan chief's teachings about how his people revered the trees ("They are alive, like us"), with frames of present-day clearcuts, which now cover most of the Island.
B.C. government-speak would have us believe we have "the most modern and sustainable logging practices in the world". The reality: hillsides laid waste, right down to the waterline, and tons of wasted wood left behind across the moonscape of the bald, bare hills.
Boyce traveled to film one last remaining pristine wilderness of thousand year old forest. As he reverently paddles his kayak along a river, we see the amazing beauty and magic of an ancient ecosystem, while the chief explains: "These trees are here for a reason." Yes, they are, but when money becomes the be-all and end-all, they haven't got a chance. Which ultimately threatens our survival, since we need to breathe, and have some protection from the sun's heat..
At best, tree planting produces a skinny monoculture that is not a viable ecosystem. And to compound the waste, these huge giants are being pulped for toilet paper, are even shipped away, so there is not even local employment as a result. Even loggers are losing their jobs - not to environmentalists, but to mechanization. Duh!
Truly sustainable logging can be economically sound, as Merv Wilkinson, who died recently, has been proving on the Island for decades. You take some trees, but selectively, and leave a viable growing forest. You do not lay waste in all directions.
Boyce films from a plane the clearcuts marching steadily towards this one last stand of old-growth. Horrifying.
The film closes with a staggering statistic: At the current rate, Vancouver Island's rainforest will be extinct in fifteen years.
I was there on the blockades in '93. Some of us have been saying this for years, since the '70's. The big trucks just keep hauling them out. Where I live, I can go down any street at any hour, and I will see a loaded truck. Money Now is more important to the multinationals than humanity's long-term survival. And the government keeps selling the huge tracts off.
I keep thinking of the Chief's words: "The trees are alive, like us." I can feel their broken hearts in my own chest.